Today’s mid-week serving of 9 delicious new music cocktails has it all: catchy glam pop, indie folk, lush dream pop, indie rock, and more! Next week the music industry turns its focus to the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference, and many of these bands will be there. The songs featured here come from artists in Australia, England, Portugal, and the U.S.
Let’s kick things off with a must-see video from one of indie music’s most engaging duos:
PWR BTTM – “Answer My Text” (Annandale on Hudson, NY USA)
RIYL: Beach Slang, Diet Cig, Lisa Prank, The Spook School
When indie glam-pop darlings PWR BTTM released the lead single “Big Beautiful Day” last month from their forthcoming sophomore effort, Pageant, we thought they’d topped themselves musically. (No pun intended.) Oh, were we wrong! Their follow-up, “Answer My Text,” is angsty indie power pop/punk perfection.
Their 2015 debut, Ugly Cherries, set the music world abuzz. Now the duo is about to unleash even more visceral energy with its successor, Pageant. They might yell “Answer my text, you dick!” on this single, but their bigger message is clear: don’t underestimate these unapologetically flamboyant and gifted musicians. Just sing along with them in cathartic solidarity.
SoundCloud Go account required for the audio, but the video is below.
PWR BTTM are Liv Bruce (vocals, drums) and Ben Hopkins (guitar, vocals).
Fleet Foxes – “Third of May/Ōdaigahara” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Damien Jurado, Lord Huron
Six years is an eternity between studio albums, especially when you’re a beloved indie band with a rabid fanbase. Fortuntely for Robin Pecknold, fans of Fleet Foxes are a patient lot. When the band’s newest single (“Third of May/Ōdaigahara”) began circulating yesterday, a collective ripple of joy reverberated online. The single comes fast on the heels of their tour announcement – one that includes a coveted headlining spot at this year’s Newport Folk Fest. Does this new song live up to the anticipation? Diehard fans will revel in this expansive, nearly nine-minute masterpiece from their upcoming Crack-Up album. (Those fans will likely also make the “May 3rd” connection, since that’s the day their last album, Helplessness Blues, released in 2011.)
Pecknold’s honeyed vocals still evoke a vintage feeling that would make John Denver proud. And lest anyone fear that time may have diminished their pastoral sound, “Third of May” is resplendent in its vivid, sun-kissed hues. This sprawling single is a sonic voyage, complete with a detour around the 5:30 mark when it veers into nearly hushed acoustic territory. For the last three minutes it becomes more cinematic in scope before tapering off into a subdued echo.
SoundCloud Go account required for the audio, but the video is below.
Fleet Foxes are: Robin Pecknold, Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson.
The Gift – “Big Fish” (Alcobaça, Portugal)
RIYL: Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Brian Eno
When it comes to sparkling musical gems, few bands are as multi-faceted as Portuguese four-piece The Gift. Although they’ve been together more than 20 years, the group is still better known in Europe than here in North America. We have been fans of theirs for quite some time, and last October we raved about “Love Without Violins,” their 2016 collaboration with Brian Eno. Whether they’re making brilliant synth pop, alt-rock or even psychedelic dance numbers, The Gift always put listeners on their toes. Their newest single, “Big Fish,” keeps the beats flowing with effortless style. It’s from their forthcoming sixth album, Altar – one that Eno co-wrote and produced.
The song kicks off with immediately danceable, synth-heavy rhythms that echo Talking Heads and Roxy Music mixed with a hint of ABBA. “Sometimes you’ve gotta get up / sometimes you’ve gotta get down / sometimes you’ve gotta be a big fish” is more than a mantra here; it’s a reminder that no matter what challenges come your way, you have the strength to stand up and face them.
Altar is due next month from La Folie Records. The Gift bring their musical talents to SXSW next week where they will likely create scores of new American fans.
The Gift are: Sónia Tavares, Nuno Gonçalves, John Gonçalves, and Miguel Ribeiro.
Minus the Bear – “Last Kiss” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Beach Slang, Polvo, The Sea and Cake
Seattle indie stalwarts Minus the Bear are in their 16th year as a band, yet with each album they still generate a sound that’s fresh and vital. When other groups stay within their comfort zone year after year, these veteran rockers remain timeless by forging new sonic territory. In the five years since their last album, Infinity Overhead, they’ve recovered from a personnel change (medical issues forced original drummer Erin Tate’s departure) and bounced back in a big way.
Their Voids LP is out as of last Friday, and “Last Kiss” finds the band riding high. With their signature bold hooks and unique time signatures, Minus the Bear display the finesse that won them so many fans in their early days. These guys are as innovative as ever. Soaring melodies, layers of shimming guitars, and wise lyrics make “Last Kiss” an instant classic.
Minus the Bear are: Jake Snider (vocals/guitar), David Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass) and Alex Rose (keys/sax/vocals).
Slow Dancer – “Don’t Believe” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Bill Withers, Tobias Jesso Jr., Michael Kiwanuka
Simon Okely – aka Slow Dancer – will ignite a fire in you with his newest single, “Don’t Believe.” If you doubt the smoldering capabilities of this Australian crooner, just have a listen to the song. Smooth and sultry, this soulful tune burns with the intimate appeal of Michael Kiwanuka mixed with the suave delivery of Tobias Jesso, Jr. While the song has vintage vibes, it’s warm and mellow with breezy sunset hues. “Don’t Believe” strikes the perfect note for any time when you want to create carefree vibes, either with someone you love or just alone on a lazy drive with the wind caressing your face.
Okely plays all the instruments on his second album, In a Mood, proving he’s more than just a singer/songwriter. The former guitarist with Aussie band Oh Mercy is scheduled to play next week at SXSW.
Sean Rowe – “Newton’s Cradle” (Troy, NY, USA)
RIYL: John Grant, Richard Thompson, Van Morrison
“Baby, we can either go away or go crazy,” indie singer/songwriter Sean Rowe pleads on his new single, “Newton’s Cradle.” This rich, luxurious song features a gorgeous string arrangement (cello, viola, and violin) that adds a velvety touch to his baritone vocals. If you’re not already familiar with Rowe, let’s get one thing clear: just because he’s an “alt-folk” troubadour doesn’t mean he makes simple, fleeting melodies intended to be hummed and forgotten. He’s alt-folk the way Sturgill Simpson is alt-country. His music is equally tender and gritty, raw and honest, with oceans of lyrical and melodic depth. So dispel any preconceived notions you may have that folk music lacks depth, okay? “Newton’s Cradle” immediately endears itself to the listener, with a jaunty tempo and hints of a bluesy undercurrent. It’s vibrant and soulful in an old-school, Van Morrison kind of way. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rowe headed south to Memphis where he recorded New Lore at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording studio. New Lore is due April 7 via Rowe’s own Three Rivers Records and Anti- Records with pre-orders here and at his Bandcamp page. His website lists his upcoming tour dates.
Goodbye June – “Good Side” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: The Black Crowes, Futurebirds, J. Roddy Walston & The Business
You’d better be sitting down (or at least holding onto your proverbial hat) because Goodbye June is about to rock your world. This emerging Nashville trio have a scorching, powerhouse sound that is on full display with their new single, “Good Side.” While the band might be new to you, they have been melting faces all over the U.S. since they formed over a decade ago. Their popularity continues to grow thanks to their electrifying live shows and songs like this one.
The members of Goodbye June are three cousins with rock ‘n roll embedded in their DNA. If you’re a fan of unbridled musical energy (in the vein of Futurebirds or The Black Crowes) that makes you say “Hell yeah!” then you have found your new favorite band. Get to know these guys now, because it won’t be long until they’re selling out massive stadiums and festivals worldwide.
Goodbye June are: Landon Milbourn, Brandon Qualkenbush, and Tyler Baker.
Dantevilles – “Graffiti” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Libertines
Graffiti is a unique expression of art, one that allows its creator to leave an indelible, personal mark. Normally graffiti is a visible medium, but not in the case of Manchester band Dantevilles. They’re leaving their mark in the form of this infectious tune instead. “Graffiti” showcases their musical skills and high-energy delivery in a tight, nearly three-minute span. Don’t be fooled by the quiet, ten-second intro: they’ll hook you in no time, leaving you wanting more.
“Graffiti” offers instant gratification courtesy of impeccably taut guitar interplay that quickens the pulse with an impossible-to-resist upbeat tempo. Indie rock is supposed to make you move, but this tune makes you feel alive. The rave reviews keep rolling in following their airplay on BBC Radio 1, for one very good reason: these guys have a fresh sound that’s borderline addictive. Dantevilles create a sonic inferno that’s nine layers of fun. Tight hooks? Check. Jaw-dropping vocals? Check. Playful energy and driving percussion? Check. “Graffiti” has it all. You owe it to yourself to dive headlong into this song and keep it on repeat. Your improved mood will thank you.
Charlie and The Villas – “I’ll Wonder Again” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Kings of Convenience, City & Colour, Fleet Foxes
The effervescent charm that bubbles forth in this new single from British indie band Charlie and the Villas could be prescribed in lieu of antidepressants. It’s that effective. The Brighton-based group, led by South London native Charlie Thomas, works with a palette of dreamy vocals and breezy tones to craft a perfect slice of indie dream pop on “I’ll Wonder Again.”
For the first half of the song, the vocals swirl around in a hazy, sigh-inducing realm while the synths and guitars steer gently. A surprise twist arrives at the bridge, when mildly psychedelic layers emerge and reveal an unexpected, kaleidoscopic depth. This is a song you simply cannot listen to just once or twice. Its prism of tones is so engaging that you find yourself hitting repeat multiple times and finding new glimmers of joy with each play. The band will release it as a double A-side this Friday. Check their Facebook page for more details. Until then, you can stream it on Soundcloud.
Charlie and The Villas are: Charlie Thomas (guitar/vocals), Matt Botha (guitar/backing vocals), Miles Goodall (keys/backing vocals), Jack Looker (synths), John Englefield (bass), and John Brooks (drums).
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